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February 05, 2021

Homeland Security, Appropriations, Transportation, and Oversight Leaders Introduce Bill to Improve TSA Frontline Workforce

(WASHINGTON) – Today, Homeland Security Committee Chairman Bennie G. Thompson, Appropriations Committee Chairwoman Rosa L. DeLauro, Oversight and Reform Committee Chairwoman Carolyn B. Maloney, Transportation and Infrastructure Committee Chairman Peter DeFazio along with Homeland Security Transportation and Maritime Security Subcommittee Chairwoman Bonnie Watson Coleman and Appropriations Homeland Security Subcommittee Chairwoman Lucille Roybal-Allard re-introduced legislation to ensure that all Transportation Security Administration (TSA) employees – including frontline Transportation Security Officers (TSOs) – are afforded the same worker rights and protections afforded to other Federal workers under Title 5 of the U.S. Code. 

The Rights for the Transportation Security Administration Workforce Act of 2021 will provide TSOs full Federal employee collective bargaining rights, access to an independent third party for dispute resolution, and compensation under the General Services wage system. The House passed this legislation twice in the 116th Congress, on its own as H.R. 1140 and as part of H.R. 2, the Moving Forward Act.

“Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, Transportation Security Officers have remained on the frontline and put themselves at even greater risk every day to keep our skies safe. Despite their zero-fail mission, TSOs are among the lowest paid Federal employees and are denied workforce rights available to other Federal employees,” said Chairman Thompson. “This is simply unacceptable, and it is long past time we provide this critical workforce the pay, protections, and respect they deserve. This will not only help improve the morale of the TSO workforce, but it will also help ensure we can continue to develop TSA into the professional, effective national security agency Congress envisioned. It is my strong hope that President Biden will take decisive action to provide TSA employees the rights and benefits they deserve but regardless, the change must be codified in statute to ensure its permanence. I am grateful for my colleagues for joining me in reintroducing this critical legislation and I am more hopeful than ever we can get it passed in both the House and Senate.”

“Transportation Security Officers continue to risk their health and that of their families to protect our cities during the coronavirus pandemic. Our country’s Transportation Security Administration’s screening officers should be on equal footing as any other member of the Federal workforce,” said Chairwoman DeLauro.  “The Rights for the Transportation Security Administration Workforce Act of 2021 will right a wrong that has denied these frontline workers protections afforded to members of the Federal civil service while protecting Americans while traveling. I hope we move swiftly to take up this bill and send it to the Senate for passage.”

“Transportation Security Officers are serving on the frontlines in their communities working to keep us safe every day,” said Chairwoman Maloney.  “The fact that TSOs are not currently afforded the same rights and protections as their fellow federal workers is unacceptable.  I hope that this bill becomes law so that these dedicated workers have access to resources that will boost morale and help communicate that they are valued and appreciated.”  

“Even before the COVID-19 pandemic, TSOs were essential workers—essential for our national security, essential for the aviation sector, and essential for the safety of the flying public,” said Chairman DeFazio. “Yet since the creation of the Transportation Security Administration, these essential workers have been some of the lowest-paid federal employees in the entire nation, and have been denied basic workers’ rights. Still, they have worked through multiple government shutdowns, staff shortages, increased passenger volumes, and now a global pandemic. They deserve not only a pay raise, but the same rights and protections available to other federal employees.”

“Transportation Security Officers have continued to admirably perform their duties during the COVID-19 crisis and yet, under current rules, they are not afforded the same rights to organize as other workers,” said Chairwoman Watson Coleman. “This creates the dual issue of dragging down morale and hampering efforts to hire and retain skilled and qualified personnel. I enthusiastically support this bill’s reintroduction and look forward to passing it through the House.”

“Before and throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, Transportation Security Officers have been working tirelessly on the frontlines and risking their health and safety to protect our national security and ensure the well-being of Americans nationwide,” said Chairwoman Roybal-Allard. “It’s unacceptable that despite their critical mission and hard work, TSOs remain among the lowest-paid Federal employees and are denied the protections and workforce rights available to other Federal employees. Ensuring that TSO workers receive the rights, benefits, and resources they deserve is a critical and long-overdue step to help them carry out their hard work to defend our national security. I’m proud to join my colleagues in re-introducing this legislation, and I hope to see it passed quickly so that TSOs are more fairly compensated and protected as they continue their vital efforts to keep us safe.” 

Link to legislation

Link to legislation fact sheet

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Press Contact

Adam Comis (Thompson)
Katelynn Thorpe (DeLauro)
Aryele Bradford (Maloney)
Beth Schoenbach (DeFazio)
Mike Shanahan (Watson Coleman)
Benjamin Bryant (Roybal-Allard)